Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fireflies - A Post-Mortem Post

A truly post-mortem post considering how the story went.

I figured I'd get on here, and talk about the whole process of writing a story and posting it on the internet as I went.  It went pretty well, in my mind.  There was a time or two that I felt a little embarrassed about what I was writing.  When I included sex scenes, I felt a little weird posting them.  I guess I'm a little prudish when it comes to that sort of thing.  I'll joke about that kind of stuff or worse on the Dunesteef podcast, but it feels a little different for some reason when I post it in a story that is entirely of my own making.

Luckily, however, it didn't effect me enough to cause me to write the story any differently than I would have.  I never had that thought in the back of my mind as I wrote that I was going to post this, so I'd better not go there.  That's good, because I always want to tell the story as honestly as I can.  Whatever my characters want to do, they should do.  And yes, I know it's my mind making them do these things, but if I fetter my mind with rules or fears, then the story will certainly suffer.  I think readers will notice that it's not honest, and will feel that the story is not as good as it could be because of it.

One thing that I did for this story for the first time was write the entire thing using Google Drive.  After I had an issue earlier in the year with losing a thumbdrive that I kept stories on, several people suggested various cloud servers that I could use to store and access my work on.  Since I already had some experience using Google Drive with other things, I chose to use it.

It worked really well.  I loaded up the apps on all my computers, phones, and tablets, and was able to use any one of them to write the story whenever I had a minute to do so.  For the most part, I did it while sitting at a desk in front of a computer, like I always have, but for at least one of the days, I used my Samsung Galaxy tablet and the keyboard attachment that it came with.  That was cool.  I really liked being able to write wherever I wanted to like that.  I even took my tablet with me when we went camping this weekend so that I could finish the story up there if I got a chance to write.  Of course, I didn't get a chance, but it would have been cool if I had.

The one drawback that I found to writing the story live online was my infernal need for immediate approval.  I think I told people not to comment specifically on the story when I started out, because I knew that if they did, I might take whatever they said to heart to much, and think I needed to rework the story.  That has killed my progress in the past with other stories.  But, despite that, I really wanted people to comment on the story.  I would check for comments often, even though I knew there wouldn't be any.  At one point, you might remember, I begged everyone who was reading just to comment and let me know that they were there, that they were reading.  "Just say hi," I begged.

It didn't work, of course.  The only people who commented and told me they were reading were the same people who had already commented in the past, and I already knew were reading.  Maybe they're the only people who were reading.  I still don't know.  But it shouldn't matter.  I shouldn't care.  I shouldn't be so damned needy.  Am I writing to get praise from others?  Or am I writing to because I love to tell stories and feel I have something to contribute to the human race?  Probably both, I suppose.  But I really need to work on becoming more of a self-starter, and less dependent on other's approval for my motivation.

Another thing I found interesting was how the story started to affect me.  The trajectory of the story was planned out months ahead.  All the way back when the idea came to me, it quickly plotted itself out in my mind with the ending going the way it did.  But when I finally sat down and started writing, I had trouble doing what needed to be done.  I really liked Simi's character, and didn't want to do what had to be done to her.  And I felt like a monster when I got to the actual ending.  Maybe it's because I have a young child at home again, and I couldn't help thinking of him as a corollary to Trevon.  I don't know.  All I do know is that, although I've heard many writers like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King for example talk about that happening to them, I've never had that happen to me before.  It was pretty weird.

So, did I like it enough to do it again?  I think I did.  I think in a few days or so, I'm going to try starting up another story, and writing it live on the blog a second time.  Maybe I'll do it that way always.  It seemed to help keep me writing.  Knowing that there were at least a few people out there who were reading along, and wanted to hear what happened next was a big motivator.  Making time to write has always been my biggest problem, so if this helps, then I ought to take advantage of it.

I was thinking that perhaps this next time, I might publish all my pre-planning work as well.  But I can't decide if that's a good idea or not.  It would certainly take the suspense out of the story for anyone who was reading along.  Which I'd rather not do.  Maybe I could write it all up before the story, then post it on the blog after the story is done.  I don't know.  Let me know what you think of that idea.  I'm thinking of posting it, just because that will make me put the work in to actually complete it.  I wrote this last story half by plan and half by the seat of my pants, and I think it could have been even better if I'd planned more fully.

So, what should my next story be?  I'm thinking of writing the time-travel story idea I told Rish about a year or so ago.  I don't have a title for it yet, so I'll have to think about it.  Hopefully, I'll get one before I start writing the story, so you'll have something to call it from the beginning.  But that doesn't always work.  Sometimes the title reveals itself to you when you're writing the story, and not before.  And, sadly for me, sometimes the title never becomes obvious at all.

Okay, so, finally, I ask you for any comments on the story.  What worked?  What didn't work?  What parts bored you?  What parts excited you?  Where did you see typos?  What suggestions do you have?  I know some (or all?) of you who  were reading have given me some comments already, but if you haven't, I'd love to hear them.  Did you like the title?  I thought about changing it to "True Dreams" at one point, but I think that would give away too much too early, so I decided I'd stick with "Fireflies".  Good decision?  Let me know whatever you think.  Thanks.

13 comments:

  1. I really, really enjoyed the story over all. I think "Fireflies" works as a title; unless you want to change it to something like "Fireflies and Monsters" which gives stuff away (or just casts a more sinister light on the story as a whole), I don't know what you'd change it to.

    The only typo stuff I saw was on the last entry, and I mentioned that in my comments there; it wasn't even so much a typo as an awkward phrasing in the first paragraph. I think there was a typo later on that entry but I don't remember off the top of my head what it was.

    I was really deeply touched by many parts of this story, mostly because, as you know, I'm pregnant and the mother of small children, so I think it seemed more close to home. I thought the sex scenes were good, and I know they can be difficult to write so kudos to you for doing well and putting them out there.

    My primary thought with the dream monsters is that I don't know the point in child development they start to have dreams that manifest as anything meaningful. I think you did a great job with early on dreams being of Simi, but I think a nursing baby might have more dreams about just nursing, which I think could have added a comedic element (why is there just a hovering boob?!). I think my kids were closer to 3 before they could actually describe their dreams, which is part of why I'm not sure what babies/very young toddlers would dream about. (For instance, my son once woke from a nap, looked around, and asked why there were all these sharks in his bed. I think he was 2 1/2.)

    This was definitely a very disturbing story, and heartbreaking to read. Well done.

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    1. Thanks so much for the comments, Tena. I think I'll be naming a character after you in the next story I post on here. Or the one after that. Depends on what kind of characters wind up appearing in the story.

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  2. Big - in general, the more you interact with commentors on your blog, the more they will interact with you. So if you want people to comment more, respond to their comments. You and Rish both give the impression that you don't even read the comments on your posts because you so rarely respond. This makes people think, "Why bother?"

    For the rest - I'm sure you already know this, but it's worth repeating - pure readers are often silent. They're shy. Writers, on the other hand, are not shy. At least not about writing. Writers love to interact and comment about the process of storytelling. Writers will read and comment on stuff that's completely outside their preferred entertainment genres (stuff they would never spend money on) just because they love to talk shop. It's easy to get writers talking, but they're often not your target audience.

    If you really want useful feedback, get half a dozen beta readers. That would be easy if you asked on Dunesteef. I bet you'd have to pick and choose. Try to get people who actually read in your genre on a regular basis. That would be more useful than comments on a live-blogged story.

    Of course, I feel like I'm talking to the wall, because you almost never respond to comments on your blog, and probably no one will read this. La, la, la, all hail the ice weasels!

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    1. Whoa, did you hear something? No, I guess not.

      Wait, ice weasels?

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  3. Sorry it took so long, life got in the way of blog reading. I liked it, though found it pretty disturbing, but in a good literary way. Description was good overall, action was well paced. If you do post the planning process, I'd prefer it as a post after the story is done.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. I really appreciate all your comments. It definitely helped keep me on task to know that you would be checking up on me each day. I put you in the next story that I'll be putting on here. I started writing it while I was at my family reunion the other day. It's one of those Broken Mirror things. I think Rish wants to open it up to everyone again. Oh, by the way, what is your boyfriend's name. I can put him in the story too, if you'd like. I just gave him a generic name, but I could easily change it with Find & Replace.

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  4. I found a few typos and made a few notes, but I just sent those in an email, which should be useful when you go over the story again.

    I'm not sure how much I like "Fireflies" as a title, but that could be subconsciously influenced by where the title came from. If it were my story, I'd call it "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)," but you know that I have a sickness that no one has been able to yet cure.

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  5. Yeah, thanks for that email. It's pretty comprehensive. Unfortunately, it makes me feel that I have to do as much for you, and I don't want to. That's a lot of work you put in. But I will nonetheless.

    I thought of changing the title to True Dreams, but it's a while into the story before they realize what is happening, and I didn't want to give that away in the title. Soul Coughing does a song called "True Dreams of Wichita" I could call it that, but that would be doubly weird, since the story takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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    1. You don't have to send me notes on my story (as you said, it's a lot of work), but you can on the next one, which will be pretty short.

      Not as short as yours, mind you, but...

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  6. Big,
    I've been meaning to read your story blog, Marshal's, and Rish's and I'm finally getting around to it. It's great that your story is done because I got to read the whole thing from beginning to end. It's like when Netflix has an entire series available on instant. No commercials, no waiting a week....anyway, just showing how impatient I am. I know that's part of the draw with cliffhangers bringing people back for more, and you did a good job with those in the story. Overall, good stuff! So sad at times, but very well written and entertaining. It was fairly easy to follow their (O and S) reasoning and how they just got through something that they didn't think anyone else should know about. However, the only question I had was why they never sought help from anyone the entire time? Not even once? I get that people would think they were crazy, but maybe a child psychologist or someone they could speak to in confidence? What Abigail Hilton said was spot on. The themes of child-rearing came across really well, even in the midst of the horror, which could be looked at entirely as a metaphor. In that case, maybe none of them are really dead!

    Great job.

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  7. Thnaks, Bria. I guess I never had Oscar and Simi try to consult anyone, because they'd assumed no one would believe them, and would more likely think they were crazy, and would put them in a psych ward and take their kid away. I suppose I could add a scene where they give it a shot, just to ease people's minds. I think that could be a bit of a fun scene anyway, so I think I might. Thanks for the suggestion.

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    1. Cool! Can't hurt, right? If you don't like the scene, you can always think of as exercising writing muscles

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